They go by a whole array of common names: Butterfly Lily, Red Root, Spider Flower, Coffee Bean . . . but whatever you call them, the flowers of Wachendorfia paniculata are delightful. They are commonly seen on walking trails on Table Mountai
n and around Cape Town.
They are from the Blood Root family, so named because their rhizomes are deep red in colour and can be used to make a dye.
If you look carefully at the accompanying photograph you will notice something unique about these flowers. Two of the stamens (male organs) face in one direction and the stigma (the female organ) and another stamen are bent in the opposite direction. No one is sure of the reason for this unique arrangement.